Deep sleep after social stress: NREM sleep slow-wave activity is enhanced in both winners and losers of a conflict

Jeanine Kamphuis*, Marike Lancel, Jaap M. Koolhaas, Peter Meerlo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
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Sleep is considered to be a recovery process of prior wakefulness. Not only duration of the waking period affects sleep architecture and sleep EEG, the quality of wakefulness is also highly important. Studies in rats have shown that social defeat stress, in which experimental animals are attacked and defeated by a dominant conspecific, is followed by an acute increase in NREM sleep EEG slow wave activity (SWA). However, it is not known whether this effect is specific for the stress of social defeat or a result of the conflict per se. In the present experiment, we examined how sleep is affected in both the winners and losers of a social conflict. Sleep-wake patterns and sleep EEG were recorded in male wild-type Groningen rats that were subjected to 1 h of social conflict in the middle of the light phase. All animals were confronted with a conspecific of similar aggression level and the conflict took place in a neutral arena where both individuals had an equal chance to either win or lose the conflict. NREM sleep SWA was significantly increased after the social conflict compared to baseline values and a gentle stimulation control condition. REM sleep was significantly suppressed in the first hours after the conflict. Winners and losers did not differ significantly in NREM sleep time, NREM sleep SWA and REM sleep time immediately after the conflict. Losers tended to have slightly more NREM sleep later in the recovery period. This study shows that in rats a social conflict with an unpredictable outcome has quantitatively and qualitatively largely similar acute effects on subsequent sleep in winners and losers. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2015


  • Stress
  • Social defeat
  • Social conflict
  • Aggression
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Sleep deprivation
  • EEG slow-wave activity
  • REM sleep
  • EEG
  • MICE
  • RAT

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